Big trees are key to Bangkok’s green master plan

With its traffic jams and skyscrapers, Bangkok was once the very definition of a ‘concrete jungle.’ But the Thai capital could be a vastly different city in a decade, said the Bangkok City Hall’s tree surgeon who is optimistic about the master plan known as “Green Bangkok 2030.”

“I am convinced that Bangkok streets will have more leafy big trees. Because everyone, including the city executives and people in society, share the same vision of sustainable green areas,” said Walailuk Puriyakorn, an official of the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority’s Environment Department and the “tree surgeon” of the City Hall.

Walailuk tempered expectations saying that it would take time to achieve that goal. But she insisted the goal is achievable.

The capital has over three million trees. Under “Green Bangkok 2030,” more big trees will be planted throughout the metropolis with the aim of increasing green areas to an average of 10 square meters per person, up from 6.9 square meters today.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that healthy, green cities should have an average of at least 8 square meters of green space per person.

The city is now increasing the number of workers who tend to trees to keep them healthy, which has helped make the city greener overtime. More and better training is also provided to upskill the human resources along the way.

Walailuck’s work has been to provide surgery for aging trees in landmark areas of the capital such as Rajadamnern Avenue, Sanam Luang, Chitralada Palace, and Sra Pathum Palace.

Her work is not merely trimming leaves and branches. She carries out a range of treatments to preserve and extend the lives of some of the oldest trees in the city.

At Sanam Luang, the Royal Field in front of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) and the Grand Palace, she cares for 786 tamarind trees that were planted during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V), who ascended the throne in 1868.

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